Records and Information Management Month Colloquium

For Records and Information Management month (April), the SAA Records Management Section is seeking proposals for 5-7 minute presentations on the topic of records management. If you are interested in presenting or participating please complete the following survey questions regarding the colloquium no later than Feb 7, 2021. We will notify presenters the week of Feb 15, 2021. The date/time of the colloquium will be shared at that time too!

Send any questions or concerns to or committee chair, Jessika Drmacich (


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Building Alliances – Coffee Chat Teaser

Building Alliances – Part 1, Where to Start? Join us January 8, 2021, time 1:00pm Central Time Register for the event here:

Ryan Leimkuehler, University Records Manager at Kansas State University and David Brown, Archivist and Head of Records Management Services as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will hold a series of discussions on how to establish Archives and Records Management Programs through the formation of strategic cross organizational alliances. The goal of these discussions is to be interactive with our colleagues and the format is an initial discussion by Ryan and Dave that over the course of an hour expands to include those who have joined the event.

A typical discussion would go like this:

Dave: I think that one’s ability to forge cross organizational alliances is just as essential to successfully building and maintaining an archives and records management program as your professional knowledge and expertise. What do you think of that statement?

Ryan: I think it is critical that we form alliances and build bridges wherever possible. Just anecdotally, I have heard stories of records managers who can do very little outside of their core area because they are either not trusted or not understood across the organization. In my case with Kansas State University, a lot of this groundwork was already established, but I knew I needed to strengthen the ties and relevance to other areas outside of the University Libraries. To meet these ends we formed the Records and Information Management Committee (RIMC) and identified key offices across campus who should be represented such as: the office of the registrar, general counsel, faculty representation, office of research, human capital services, open records officer, and IT. Through this group, we established a foothold in critical offices and our work in developing retention schedules and improved efficiencies/training has justified our existence for other offices not represented on the records committee. I also developed a training program so we can meet offices ‘where they are’ and move them to ‘where we want them to be.’ So far it is Shared-Drive Clean-Up training and Records Management 101 with various on demand trainings upon request such as email management. Without this committee and our training activities, I do not believe we would be nearly as effective as we are right now and in full disclosure, we have a long way to reach every office on campus.

Dave: When starting a job in a new organization, for me, the two most important things to know about your records and information management program (RIM) are: 1) where you are; and 2) where you want to go. These two data points are your guideposts to how you are perceived and identifies the key organizational collaborators you need to engage to either enhance or change the perception of your program.

Ryan: I agree that those two data points are important in determining next steps in any RIM program. When I came onboard KSU I knew that I was the first records manager for the university. I also had some prior knowledge of the organization in my role as government records archivist for the Kansas Historical society. We collaborated on starting the process of updating their retention schedule that was passed in the 90’s and never updated since. So with that knowledge going into my position I knew I needed to leverage the Records and Information Management committee (RIMC) and develop a training program to justify our relevance and value we could offer to offices we worked with.  In the three years I have been at KSU we have updated most of the previous retention schedule and brought many unofficial retention schedules and policies up to date and made them official by working through the State Records Board.

An inventory of personal skills is also useful for a department of one, like myself, or of your team. In my case I know I am comfortable teaching/training and thus the training program made sense for me to pursue early on. I also know that I have various soft skills that are useful in repairing damage done or building new bridges.

From here, the discussion could go in many directions depending on the interactions of our colleagues. Some possible topics might be:

  • Who are the likely allies for you to target?
  • How do you repair any damage done to your program prior to your arrival?
  • Are there alliances you can build outside of your organization?
  • Have you had challenges dealing with some administration or departments who do not see our value? how can I change their minds?

The future of RIM education

We had a great conversation with folks last week about what has worked for them and what they need in the field of records and information management education. As is the case with most things in the RIM field, it depends — more specifically, what people need in a training/education sense depends on where they are professionally and what resources they have to devote to their own professional development.

Here are some interesting comments, suggestions, and evaluations that were shared:

  • The content of most grad school RIM classes is too theoretical, so there’s a disconnect to RIM in practice.
  • It would be great to see RIM systems demoed by practitioners instead of having to sit through vendor-supplied sessions that are more sales pitch than practical evaluation.
  • Many existing training programs can be prohibitively expensive, especially for those new to the profession or without support for professional development.
  • Some existing training programs are too superficial to be of much use while others are too rigid and go into topics in depth that may not be relevant to all participants. There needs to be a good in-between option.
  • What’s the most effective way to allow emerging professionals to benefit from the expertise of more seasoned RIM professionals? Is it a formal mentoring program, or would something else work better?

Topics on which folks would like to see training opportunities:

  • Creating/refining retention and disposition schedules
  • Crossing over from traditional archives work into RIM
  • Starting a new RIM program
  • Conducting RIM outreach to colleagues and building alliances and mentoring relationships within the workplace
  • Surveying records
  • Developing RIM training for constituents and assessing its effectiveness
  • Researching legal requirements for records (retention and confidentiality)
  • Incorporating graduate assistants effectively into RIM work
  • Advocating for the resources needed for RIM work
  • Making RIM part of HR onboarding/offboarding
  • Storage and carrying out paper/digital migrations
  • Planning and carrying out a digitization initiative

Possible avenues to pursue:

  • Our new case study series might help to bridge the gap between theory and practice. You can find the overview here. Be thinking about what experiences you can share that could benefit someone else in the profession.
  • One suggestion was to have a Toastmasters sort of group that could get together to workshop training/workshops you plan to present to constituents. Let us know if you would be interested in participating in something like this.
  • Now that more of us are conducting workshops virtually, should we try to publicize upcoming training events that could accommodate “guests” who might be interested in learning from another RIM colleague/seeing how they present similar content?

In the long run, taking a wide approach to answering this question about RIM education is probably the best. So expect to see everything from more coffee chats to webinars to new SAA courses — and maybe even a track or certificate program somewhere down the line.

As always, if you have thoughts or feedback, please feel free to reach out to the Steering Committee at

RIM education chat this Friday

The RMS steering committee spent a good portion of last year investigating various RIM educational opportunities.  You can view our findings here.

Now we’d like to have a conversation with our community to find out what topics and levels of depth are needed to support you in your work and your professional development.  Join us this Friday (December 11) at 2pm ET for a Zoom chat.  You are not required to have a camera available, though you are certainly welcome to use one.  Most important will be having access to speakers and a microphone so you can participate in the conversation (although if you at least have a keyboard, you could participate via chat rather than orally).  You can register for the session and receive the Zoom login information by registering here:

If we were to design a track program through SAA Education, here are some already existing courses that could be included:

• Records Management Introduction
• Basics of Managing Digital Records
• Change Management: How Do You Tackle It?
• Records Management for Archivists
• Train the Trainer: Building a Successful Continuing Education Course
• Designing and Presenting Effective Online Learning
• Email Archiving: Strategies, Tools, Techniques

What else needs to be added?  Is there sufficient interest in a certificate program?  Are there folks who’d be interested in teaching particular topics?

Bring your questions and suggestions to this session.  If you need any further information, please feel free to reach out to the steering committee leadership at  We look forward to your joining us on Friday.

Announcing the new RM Case Studies series

SAA’s Records Management Section is excited to announce the launching of a new peer-reviewed case study series under the umbrella of SAA Publications. This series seeks to support the practical as well as the theoretical and scholarly aspects of the records and information management (RIM) profession.

Suggested case study length is 2,500 to 5,000 words.  Elements of the case study include:

  • introduction
  • background/prior relevant work/institutional context
  • challenge addressed
  • strategies and resources employed
  • analysis of successes and setbacks
  • future plans

Illustrations, including tables, charts, images, etc., are welcome and should be embedded in the Word document.  Authors are responsible for understanding and following the principles that govern the “fair use” of quotations and illustrations and for obtaining written permission to publish, where necessary.  Accuracy in citations is also the author’s responsibility.

A submission will not be considered if it is being reviewed by another publishing outlet at the same time, nor if it has been published previously.  

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.  All members of the RIM community are welcome to submit case studies.  The submission form can be found at  Submissions will be reviewed by two members of the Records Management Section and evaluated according to a rubric.  The reviewers will send their analysis to the Chair of the Records Management Section within 3 weeks of receipt; the Chair will then review the feedback and make a publication recommendation to SAA’s Publications Editor.  Within 5 weeks after submission, the case study author will be notified of the publication decision.

SAA will provide light copyediting and, in some instances, may also request minor revisions to be made by the author.  The author will approve the final version.  SAA will format the case study and post it on its website as a PDF.  Copyright of the case study will remain with the author, and SAA will acknowledge that in the copyright line that will appear with the case study.  Authors will consent, grant, and assign to SAA the right to publish and/or distribute all or any part of the case study throughout the world in electronic or any other medium.  

Any questions prior to submission can be sent to

Onboarding in the time of Covid-19

Jes Martell, of Penn State, discusses onboarding for her new records management position during the time of Covid-19:

There is no better feeling than nailing an interview and getting offered the position you were hoping for. Starting a new job is an exciting opportunity to explore your potential within a business, company, or institution, and yet the first few weeks in your new position often present a new set of challenges that you may not have necessarily planned to encounter. What will a day in this new job look like? How will I build relationships with my peers and co-workers? And, of course, what will the onboarding process and job training be like? When I accepted my job offer for the position of Records Center Specialist at the Pennsylvania State University in March of 2020, I had all of these same feelings and thoughts running through my head. Unbeknownst to me, I would face the obstacle of onboarding during a pandemic that was just around the corner. In this post, I will be sharing my experience stepping into my new role in Records Management during the time of COVID-19.  

Just after, I accepted my job offer, the governor announced a state-wide closure of all non-essential businesses. At this time, I wasn’t sure how this might affect my job offer at the University. The hiring manager was fully honest with me about the situation. Penn State University would be experiencing a hiring freeze and we were unsure what this would mean for my onboarding. While this possibility was scary to consider, I appreciated the transparency. Luckily, I made the cut-off and was able to be onboarded into the Office of Records Management team.  

The Records Center, which normally operates at full-time hours during the week, would be required to cut back operations to three days a week. On my first day at work, we began by establishing Records Center operations during COVID and implementing safety plans to help mitigate the spread of the virus. This included use of separate offices, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves, enhanced cleaning, maintaining physical distancing at all times of at least 6 feet or more, and video conferencing for all meetings. As a new employee, it was reassuring to know that my team would be taking all precautions to keep us safe during these uncertain times. As a large majority of my position requires physical labor, I was also able to observe and be trained on the physical aspects of my job, such as records destruction and operation of machinery, during my first week of work. 

The two days of the week that I wasn’t working on-site, I was assigned a laptop and webcam to work remotely. I never worked from home before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being so new, I hoped that I would still be able to be productive and contribute to projects as part of the team. Working remotely those two days allowed me the time to complete the necessary University onboarding requirements such as HR remote document verification, selection of benefits, on-line lift training, and IT tech orientation. While working at home, I was also able to assist my team with a shared drive migration project. Each member of our team was assigned folders within the shared drive to review, after confirming that all records inside of those folders were still necessary to keep, I was responsible for moving the records from our previous file-sharing application, Box, to Microsoft SharePoint. We also used this time to review our Records Center website. I reviewed each page on our website and made notes about any suggestions that I had and we shared our edits as a team during our daily meetings. By the end of the first week, I was feeling much more confident in my ability to learn both on-site duties and be an active team member remotely. On Friday, April 3rd, we received notice that the Records Center would be shut down completely until further notice in response to COVID and would operate on an on-call request basis only.  

For the following 10 weeks, we made a few brief appearances at the Records Center once or twice weekly to provide access to records for life-sustaining services, such as Human Resources, University Health Services, and Penn State Law. I used those on-site opportunities to do as much hands-on work as possible in hopes that when we did return full-time, I would feel confident in my ability to successfully operate the Records Center. I felt optimistic that I would be able to learn the physical duties required of my position; the biggest mystery for me was learning Records Management. I did not have much of a background working in the field prior to this role, so I knew there would be a lot for me to learn.  

One of the most valuable tools that my team has been using during the remote work period is Microsoft Teams. We use the application for all meetings, including our daily morning meetings which give us the opportunity to touch base on projects, talk about current events, and get to know one another, as I had only met a few of my team members in-person once at this point. We also used Microsoft Teams to provide Records Management training for me on topics such as audits, litigation holds, University policies, records retention schedules and many others. My team invited me to consultation meetings with different departments at the University so that I could observe the retention schedule creation process for a variety of records. I was also included in meetings with departments we work closely with, such as Human Resources, Archives, and General Counsel, to introduce myself and ask any questions I had. In a way, I feel that the pandemic afforded me additional undivided attention for training sessions and opportunities to ask questions that perhaps I may not have had otherwise during what would typically be very busy weeks had we been working on-site. I felt surprisingly positive about how well I was able to learn remotely.  

By the beginning of June, our Team was feeling ready to return to on-site operations, so we submitted the required “PSU Return-To-Work” proposal for consideration and on June 10th, we were approved for a partial return-to-work schedule of 3 days per week for 6 hours per day. Although I was somewhat anxious returning on-site with the virus still very much present in Pennsylvania, I knew that my team was taking all precautions to keep me safe and it was always made very clear to me that if at any time I did not feel comfortable working on site, there would be no hesitation in accommodating my concerns. As a new employee, this was extremely comforting to me and it meant a lot knowing that the focus was not on productivity at this time, but instead on our health and safety as individuals.  

As of August 24th, the Records Center is open again and I have returned to work full-time alongside the Records Center Manager. With her guidance, I have become fully competent in my physical duties working on-site and, thanks to my entire team, I feel confident and knowledgeable in the space of Records Management. Stepping into a new job position in a remote environment presented me with many challenges but also a lot of opportunities for individualized training. In my opinion, the most valuable resource that I had while onboarding was my team. If you have a patient, supportive team dedicated to helping you grow and succeed then you too can survive onboarding, even in a pandemic! 

Archives Records 2020 RMS Virtual Annual Meeting

Last week, over 130 people came together via Zoom for the annual meeting of the SAA Records Management Section.  We first had a visit from Cal Lee, editor of The American Archivist, who made a plug for submissions of records management related articles.  You can find submission guidelines here.

As the current chair of the section, I presented a brief business report of the steering committee’s activities for 2019-2020.

  • We posted monthly steering committee meeting summaries to the listserv and our microsite.  (If you wish to join our listserv community, you can create an account here.)
  • We revamped our microsite and added an RM toolkit with links to various best practices.
  • We had 41 blog posts, including a continuation of the Resourceful Records Manager series and the introduction of two new series exploring the intersections between archives and records management work — one a series of testimonials from practitioners and the other a series of brief literature reviews exploring these intersections.
  • We also posted an interview with a scholarly communications expert about the ramifications of GDPR in the U.S.
  • We updated resources in our Zotero bibliography.
  • We hosted three virtual coffee chats during COVID times.
  • We produced calculators for the costs of storing paper and electronic records.
  • We collaborated with SNAP for a Twitter chat.
  • We submitted a draft proposal to the SAA Committee on Education for an RIM certificate program.

I also reported our election results, with nearly 200 section members participating:

  • Krista Oldham, University Archivist at Clemson University, will be stepping into the role of Vice-Chair for the coming year, to be followed by a year as Chair, and then a year as Immediate Past Chair.
  • We have a new steering committee member who will serve a 3-year term — Ryan Leimkuehler, who is University Records Manager at Kansas State University.
  • We are welcoming two early career members, who will serve 1-year terms:
    • Madison Chartier is a Metadata Librarian at Oklahoma State University
    • Jes Martell is a Records Center Specialist at Pennsylvania State University

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information here on our blog about our new committee members.

After reading an SAA Council update prepared by our liaison, we launched into our lightning round presentations centered around carrying out records management responsibilities in academic settings.

  • Jessika Drmacich, Records Manager and Digital Resources Archivist at Williams College, talked about “The Records Manager in the Library.”
  • Krista Oldham, University Archivist at Clemson University, spoke about “Getting a Seat at the Table.”
  • Eric Stoykovich, College Archivist and and Manuscript Librarian at Trinity College, talked about “Remote Records Management.”
  • Greg Wiedeman, University Archivist at the University of Albany, talked about “Why our records program is bad, and how I’m okay with that.”
  • Elizabeth Carron, currently Accessioning Archivist at Boston College, reflected on selecting RM projects and partnering with GLAM institutions while she worked at the University of Michigan.
  • Hillary Gatlin, Records Manager at Duke University, talked about “Developing Proactive Outreach.”

We intended to have breakout sessions that would focus on some of the issues that were raised by our query on our recent ballot, but technology interfered with that plan.  So instead, we had more generalized discussions and will plan in the coming weeks to organize times that we can have virtual meetings about those topics like developing RM programs, e-records management, and RIM education.

You can access the slide deck from this meeting here, and a recording will be made available by SAA.  And remember, if you have a topic or a work product that you’d like for us to consider adding to our developing agenda, please contact any steering committee member or send us an email at  You can also post to our discussion list through SAA Connect, and if you’d like to write a post for our blog, once again, please reach out to the steering committee.

Update: The recording of this meeting is now available at

RMS Section Meeting Teaser #6

Our sixth and final panelist teaser is from Jessika Drmacich of Williams College.

*The RMS panel is set for this coming Monday, July 27th at 3pm ET.

Synopsis of her lightning round presentation:

The records management program at Williams College began formally in 2012 and has since evolved into a robust ecosystem across campus. In her presentation, Jessika will provide a short overview of the program, the role itself, and discuss how good records management contributes to institutional efforts to diversify and enrich documentation of its histories. She’ll also explore the creativity required to navigate and document power dynamics.

2020 RMS annual meeting

SAA is going virtual this year, and the annual meeting for our Records Management Section will take place Monday, July 27th from 2-3:15pm Central Time.  This is a free event, but you need to register in advance in order to receive the instructions for joining our Zoom session.  This meeting will be recorded and made available at a later date, but we highly encourage you to join us live so you can interact with your fellow practitioners.  You’ll notice when you register that we’re also asking you to choose the breakout session you wish to attend during our meeting; although you’ll be able to hear the summaries of these sessions on the recording, participating in the live event will provide you the opportunity to share your ideas and shape the priorities of the RMS section for the upcoming year.

In addition to our brief business meeting, we’ll have six panelists present lightning talks and respond to your questions about doing records management work within academic libraries.  You can find out more about the topics of our lightning panel here on our blog.  Then we’ll conclude our meeting by hosting breakout sessions to focus in on a particular aspect of records management work, including:

  • RIM education
  • E-records and archiving email
  • Outreach
  • Developing RM programs
  • RM toolkit
  • GDPR

We hope to “see” you at our meeting next week.

RMS Section Meeting Teaser #5

Our next teaser is from panelist Eric Stoykovich of Trinity College!

Reminder: our section meeting is free and it is set for Monday, July 27th at 3pm ET.

Are Records Essential to Governance of Higher Education during a Crisis?

Colleges and universities often face existential threats or once-in-a-lifetime crises which require quick or possibly unilateral actions on the part of administrators. At such times of exigency, consultation or consent of faculty, staff, alumni, or parents may be difficult or impossible. Administrators may also wish to innovate in ways which reflect well on the independent traditions of their schools, when the more prudent response may be collaborative or imitative.

During such crises, the continued management and access to college and university records ought to be viewed as a stabilizing force, reaffirming the variety of roles which administrators and faculty have played in the past during previous upheavals on campus. For example, at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), many professors taught outside their fields of training during World War II, when 1/3 of the faculty had left for war work.

In 2020, maintaining present college records is challenged on two fronts. Not only are records creators and archives’ staff restricted from access to physical records, but most staff and faculty working remotely and often creating and storing “institutional records” on dispersed servers, such as personal computers, and in new electronic formats, including Zoom meetings. The college or university staff responsible for records and archives management will need to confront both of these challenges now and in the coming months. Communicating the value of transferring all college-related work products, especially those normally maintained as part of a records retention schedule, to institutionally-maintained servers or cloud storage on a regular basis could be an important first step in this process of making the best of the situation of near universal remote work in higher education settings.